Chicago Cubs’ prospect Casey Coleman, 24, has a 3.91 ERA and a 1.232 WHIP in 11 starts with AAA Iowa this year.

That may not sound like much, but, in the extraordinarily hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, that ERA would be the fifth best if Coleman qualified. It would be the third best among full-time starters. The WHIP would be the best in the league.

So why exactly is 35-year-old retread Rodrigo Lopez, who almost certainly has no future with this organization, getting yet another start today?

“I’m committed to him right now.” Quade explained. “As I look at this thing as it pans out — take it four days at a time — we’re going to play Washington, who is in the hunt still, and we have contenders throughout the rest of the month. That’s part of the reason I want to keep the pitching in line.”

What Quade is saying is that he doesn’t want to use the rotation for developmental purposes against teams still in contention for the playoffs.

Allow me to express my suspicion that, at least part of the explanation is, once again, Quade is placing his own interests (in winning immediately) over the long-term interests of the organization. Quade believes Lopez offers him the best chance at wins right now, rather than a kid who struggled mightily earlier this year. Jim Hendry could force Quade’s hand a bit by promoting Coleman, but there’s no guarantee that Quade would put Coleman in the rotation.

Of course, even if Quade’s “contenders” explanation were the entire story, it would be a terrible explanation for at least two reasons. First, the team with which Quade opened his position – the Nationals – stand 19.5 games out in the NL East, and 11 games out in the Wild Card (behind some six other teams). That, sir, is not a “contender.” Further, while the Cubs do play the Braves, Giants and Cardinals over the next few weeks, they also play the Astros, Pirates and Reds. The “contenders” explanation simply doesn’t hold water.

Second, you don’t owe anything to any other team but your own. And, if it’s in the best interests of your franchise to let young guys get experience (or at least see what they’ve got), you do that. Moreover, it would be preferable to get them experience against “contenders” – who wants to see how young guys do against a bunch of teams who also have nothing to play for? Put the young guys out there against teams that are playing for their baseball life, and really test their mettle.

Eventually, I think the Cubs will see to Coleman getting some big league starts. Probably September. But, as with last year, it will probably be too late to really evaluate his performance – Coleman pitched very well in September last year against a bunch of fluffy teams, leading the Cubs to believe they had a solid sixth starter going into 2011. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have a broader base of experience against which to evaluate Coleman before assuming he could handle the role?

  • Ryan

    “Jim Hendry could force Quade’s hand a bit by promoting Coleman, but there’s no guarantee that Quade would put Coleman in the rotation.”

    This would be like the pitching version of the Fukudome trade. If Hendry really wanted to see some of these young guys play, he could force Quade’s hand by demoting Lopez and bringing up Coleman. In this case, Quade wouldn’t have a Reed Johnson on the pitching staff to replace Coleman with. He would be forced to use Coleman as the fifth starter at that point.

  • MichiganGoat

    It’s impressive that Coleman went back to AAA and is dominating, it tells me there are two possibilities:

    1-he learned from his earlier struggles and went back to AAA to prove that he can be successful as a 4/5 starter.
    2-he is nothing more than an AAAA type and can’t make the jump.

    Regardless he deserves to return and see if he learned and improved from his early season stint. It’s irresponsible to leave him in AAA and go with Lopez when the only thing we have to play for is evaluation fir next year, but that is exactly what the Q School of Management clearly states is the right move. Watch Q move Spellcheck to the rotation before giving him another shot. Maybe Q blames him for this season!

    • CubFan Paul

      Coleman is not dominating @AAA. he’s only averaging 6.3innings a start and to me thats a Big AAAA indicator to me ..he’s a soft tosser (i’m sick of the Maddux talk when he’s on the mound), low stamina, and he beats himself once or twice a game by getting into jams & never pitching into the 7th or later

      Ladies, Drunks, & Gentlemen, I give you Randy Wells all over again. Seriously.

      Sign CJ Wilson, keep Dempster & Zambrano for the last year of their contracts, extend Garza to buy up his arbitration years (& save money) and hope like hell Cashner’s “top of the rotation stuff” returns to form

      2012: Garza, Cj Wilson, Big Z, Demp, & Cashner

      ..thats how you compete in 2012 (w/ Fielder also at $23/yr)

      • CubFan Paul be clear, Coleman was averaging 6.1-6.2innings/game before his callup. I think the problem is arm strength ..Call me after he gains 9lbs of muscles at Camp Colvin (roid & ped/hgh central)

        • Matt Murton

          Sadface. Let’s give the kid a chance. There’s more potential there than with Lopez, there’s no debating that. Baseball is a game of opportunity- if he comes up and pitches well (thus confirming that he is making the adjustments necessary of a ML player), then let’s roll with it! This is a time of patience. Nobody in this organization is going to come up and be the next Tim Lincecum (maybe McNutt, but it’s doubtful). Maybe we have a diamond in the rough here. As long as he gives us a chance to win, that’s all you can ask for (given our current ‘talent’ pool), right?

          • CubFan Paul

            “this is a time of patience.” Not for me it isn’t. We’re on pace to lose 100games. With the money coming off the books this winter our win/loss record could be reversed (smart front office taking advantage of it’s resources)

      • Brett

        You’re so hard on me, Paul. And I love you for it.

        No one is saying Coleman is the answer or even a surefire rotation-mate next year. But it’s certainly worth seeing him when the alternative is Lopez. And I disagree about “dominating.” Averaging 6+ innings with a top-five ERA in the league is dominating. Not sure how you could describe it differently.

        • CubFan Paul

          Differently as in, I think his innings per game should be higher than 6.3 ..If he doesn’t have the “gas” or high MPH to pitch 6.8-7.5innings in AAA he’s assuredly going to struggle in the Bigs

          Thats my opinion with a untrained coach potato eye, although I did sleep in a Holiday Inn Express lastnight..

          • Brett

            I want to be clear: if I were voting, I’d vote “nay” on whether Coleman ever becomes a useful big league starter.

            But that’s not the question right now. The question right now is: is it worth finding out the answer to that there previous question, or should the Cubs keep starting Rodrigo Lopez?

            • CubFan Paul

              Considering Lopez has only enough stamina to go 5innings effectively, then I would start Coleman over him with Lopez replacing Ortiz in the bullpen

              • Matt Murton

                Not to get in the middle of this bromance, but heck, let’s give Jay Jackson a chance. Just release Ortiz, Lopez, and Bush (just the thought that he’s going to come up when either of those two get the Doug Davis treatment gives me chills) and bring up Jackson, Rusin, and/or Coleman. Perhaps a change of scenery is all they need. I mean, I’d want to get the f out of Iowa too.

                • Brett

                  Jackson… he makes me sad. If he had done *anything* this year at AAA, he would have had five chances already this year with the Cubs. But he regressed badly.

                  • Caleb

                    What’s wrong with Iowa, Matt? Some of us live here! (for a few more days at least)

  • Bric

    Ace, not getting an accurate evaluation on Coleman’s potential is exactly the point. Hendry and Quade still think they have jobs next year and watching Coleman get lit up again this year will put a damper on the B.S. they’re already planning for the Cubs convention in December. “We have a lot good, young pitchers who are ready to take the next step…” It’s all about pre-season ticket sales for 2012.

  • Jeff

    As i suspected all along, Quade is mildly retarded. His comments about the Nationals “still in the hunt” are very similar to the ones he said about the Cubs last month when he told us he “wasn’t crazy”. I wonder if this guy is really that stupid, or that he thinks the fans and media are that stupid to buy his b.s. reasoning.

    • MichiganGoat

      He loves lamp

      • TWC

        He also likes ice cream, and really enjoys a nice pair of slacks.

  • RY

    or maybe the triple a coaches know a whole hell of a lot more than qball and riggins!

  • Ryan

    He would like to invite you to the pants party.

    • Matt Murton

      I watched him eat fiberglass insulation one time. It wasn’t cotton candy like that guy said.

      • dreese

        He doesnt know what were yelling about

  • willis

    The guy continues to amaze me. Is he really managing a major league baseball team?

    He needs a gag order from the organization. Dude sounds more and more stupid every time he opens his mouth. Nothing he says makes a lick of sense.

  • fire hendry and quade

    saying the nats are in the hunt is the single dumbest thing i have ever heard a major league manager say. he should have been fired on the spot after that comment he doesnt even understand how the division and wild card standings work! f@&kin idiot!

  • awesome

    he’s just a flat out bad manager and liar.

  • Kyle N

    Raise your hand if you are INCREDIBLY CONCERNED about the prospects of the starting rotation next year.

    Holy. Uncertainty. Batman.

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but out of all the established starters on the staff, I am most worried about Dempster. He’ll be 35 years old, already had the best stretch of his career from 2008-2010, and has thrown a lot of innings. If there is a candidate for a complete “Fall off a cliff and lose your spot in the rotation” season in 2012, I’d have to cast my vote for him.

    I’m predicting Zambrano will give you 10-13 wins, an ERA just north of 4.00, some big performances on the mound (and at the plate), some big meltdowns on the mound (and at the plate) and one to two “sideshow/extreme frustration moments” next season. He may be trending downward, but amazingly, he hasn’t had any horrible statistical outliers over the course of a whole year. It’s still depressing that I’m trying to talk him into being a bright spot, of all things.

    Randy Wells looks awful. (6.05 ERA, 1.591 WHIP, .300/.359/.482 against, 10.7 H/9) I have mentioned this in previous posts and in the starts since he continues to get lit up with batting practice regularity. Is he still feeling the effects of the forearm injury, or are we seeing the death of a big league career slowly unfolding in front of our eyes.

    Our number five starter (Cashner) has exactly ONE major league start to his credit. We have absolutely no idea how he’ll bounce back, what his workload potential will be, etc. Like Brett has mentioned, it could be almost a whole year before he faces major league hitters again. Talk about rolling the dice.

    That leaves us with Coleman (A “Jekyll and Hyde” type season, suckfest in MLB, performing well at AAA) and Jay Jackson (who looks flat-out awful) as our options in the minors. Can’t get more uncertain/depressing then that.

    *Sigh* Looking at this post has officially made me even more bummed out. Could be worse. . . If I hear James Russell and starting pitching even mentioned together (jokingly or otherwise), I might just lose it.

    • Toosh

      My hand is up. Counting on Wells next year would be a mistake. The Cubs need to add at least 2 proven major league starters.

    • MichiganGoat

      Yup, the only person to count on is Garza

    • NyN

      “If I hear James Russell and starting pitching even mentioned together (jokingly or otherwise), I might just lose it.”

      James Russell should be our five man. sorry

  • Vince

    Blame Hendry for this mess. Between he and Quade the cubs have absolutlely no chance whatsoever in 2012 and beyond. Is Tom rickets aware of this double disaster? What do us fans have to look forward to but more moronic moves on and off the field.

  • Fishin Phil

    Is it just me, or does Quade actually seem to be getting dumber as the year goes on?

    • willis

      It’s not just you. Dude is talking like he’s 3 trying to understand microbiology.

  • jim

    Ricketts is playing with “FIRE” if he brings back Hendry, Kenney, Quade, & yes Riggins. Clean the house out & you will have one hell-aciouis Convention in January. “EVERYONE” in cubs nation want change & we are talking about fans all over the country. Do it Tom, for the fans. Consider Ryno who is winning big with the Iron Pigs going after his 3rd manager of the year award & leading the minor league attendance with 9,000 fans per game. That’s amazing for minor league baseball. Ryno has popularity, he has communication skills without using elementary school , and he did everything that Hendry asked him to do unlike quade who still plays Colvin part-time because a couple pf vets might lose playing time.. Get rid of this good ole boy system, including Quade’s college room mate who is our asst. GM in randy Bush. If Flieta pulls a power play in saying if Jimbo leaves I leave too….let him go. I think Flieta is doing his job with the international players. You said you wanted to build it with youth well obviously Quade isn’t the man to lead you into the future. Let the BS interviews be over with & send crane kenney that the number of victories don’t really count anymore. Quade likes his stat book, look up how we can win this thing & make a collegiate statement that we are now officially out of the race.

  • Ralph

    I really don’t want to see Lopez or Coleman start to be honest… no options though…

  • NyN

    Am I the only person that really wishes we had hired Joe Girardi instead of Lou Piniella back in 07. I am still bitter about that move.

    • NyN

      The Cubs have made awful managerial decisions forever. They really do need to just dump everyone and start over. IF not we are doomed to continue repeating this misery.

    • Toosh

      No, you’re not the only one. And when Hendry might have had a chance to hire Girardi AGAIN, he didn’t pursue it. How many reasons does Ricketts need to can this guy?

  • Joe Cartwright

    Quade wants to try and save his job by winning.

  • Toosh

    Winning what? 70 games instead of 65?

    • Joe Cartwright

      Look at what his end of the year performance last year earned him. I guess i’m thinking he’s going for a ‘hope for next year’ act again.

  • jim

    Quade rules: can Never swing at 3-0 pitch. Lowest BA bats cleanup all season. Wait til AUG
    To figure out best lineup. Castro never rests., etc. Fed up!